Making New Year’s Resolutions seems to be a bit passe, but I still like to do it. It gives me a chance to reflect on what’s working well or not so well, what I’d like to do more of, projects I’d like to complete. And of course, you could do it at any time, but the New Year seems to offer the perfect timing. The clock ticks over and boom, you’re into working on your goal.
Now, from the title of this post, my New Year’s Resolution might seem a bit strange for a book blogger. What do you mean you don’t read to your baby? Don’t you know the importance of reading to babies and young children?
Well, here’s the thing. I read to Phoebe, my now three and a half year old constantly. From the moment I brought her home from hospital, I read her newspaper articles while she was feeding, books as soon as she was old enough to keep her eyes open to look at them, sang her songs… she had stories for fun in the day, stories before naps, bedtime stories… she loves books and loves to take herself off and “read” by herself.
But the baby…. the baby does not like being read to. Erin likes books, don’t get her wrong. If anything she has a paper fetish, but she sees them more as a snack. Should you leave her unattended with a board book for even half a minute, she will have eaten the spine and you’ll be fishing it out of her mouth. I try and read her bedtime stories but she throws herself backwards howling with rage when she doesn’t get to chew the pages… It doesn’t make for a relaxing bedtime when The Very Hungry Caterpillar has you in tears. So I need new strategies for reading to the baby and my new year’s resolution is to develop a range of strategies to start reading to a baby who doesn’t like books.
I trained as an English teacher so I have a pretty good understanding of active reading strategies and ways of getting older learners who are reluctant to engage with books to engage with books and I was talking to my MIL who is a primary school teacher about this to see if she had any tips for helping babies engage with books. Apparently their father was the same and would be happy enough to listen to a story if he was allowed to run around like a lunatic while he did it, but wouldn’t sit and cuddle and enjoy one. Apparently her health visitor told her that all children are either dissectors (who want to examine things very carefully) or destroyers (well, you know…) and it would seem that I have one of each.
In some ways that’s reassuring because it means that Erin is at least experiencing the passive benefits of me reading to Phoebe while she plays happily on the floor, so it would be nice to have some devoted one on one story time. I’ve already tried letting her pick the books, reading touchy feely books, trying different reading times and places but all she wants to do is gnaw on the books. I’ve tried making sure she has a teething toy and a fully belly as well!
My next line of attack will be to look at more active storytelling, since she loves being danced with and nursery rhymes which you perform with/on her physically. I’m thinking story baskets and puppets as a first line of attack. In the meantime, her current favourite toy is an indestructible book that my friend bought her for Christmas. They look and feel like real paper but are completely chew proof (and believe me she’s tried) so I might see if I can find more of those as an interim solution. If I’m not allowed to read them to her, at least she can enjoy turning their pages!
We’ll get there eventually. In the meantime, the phrase, “Not in your mouth!!!” is very versatile.